If you’re reading this, chances are you know someone who is getting married this year or you’re preparing for a wedding yourself. As a wedding photographer, I’ve been to quite a few weddings and I wanted to share some tips for the BIG DAY that I’ve found to be helpful. These may not be applicable or right for everyone, but I thought I’d share a few tips that I’ve learned over the years. If you know a bride, would you mind sharing this blog post with her? I have a feeling it may help!
So, here they are…
15 Wedding Day tips:
- Your wedding day timeline matters. Timelines are one of the first things that I do after booking my clients. It’s so important to keep in mind the ceremony time, sunset time, and cushion time throughout the day. I would rather have extra time on a wedding day for the bride (and groom) to relax and spend with those they love rather than rushing up until the moment of the ceremony to get all portraits done. As the photographer, I do my best to ensure that my couples have a timeline that reflects all of their important wants throughout the day as well as extra time for them to soak in the special moments of the day.
- Share the timeline. Send your timeline to your videographers, coordinator, florist, other vendors, bridal party, and immediate family members. It’s important that everyone knows when to be ready for photos and the ceremony. It’s also important for vendors such as the florist to know when to have all bouquets and boutonnieres ready for bridal party portraits so that we aren’t waiting on them. When sharing the timeline with these people, emphasize how important it is to follow the timeline as closely as possible. When everyone is following the timeline and making it a priority, the day goes so much smoother!
- Plan more than enough time for hair and make-up (it tends to take longer than you think)... And do a trial beforehand. I have seen weddings that were rushed and almost late because of hair and makeup. When you or your bridesmaids are late getting ready, it pushes back the timeline of the entire day… and sometimes certain things have to be cut out when there isn’t time. Take whatever time you hair/makeup artist gives you and then add at least a half hour or more to it. It’s better to be early than to be late. It will also help to save time if you’ve already had a trial run with your hair/makeup artists and they know what you want. We don’t need any hair or makeup disasters on your big day!
- Spend time prior to your wedding day prepping all of the details you want photographed. This includes rings, bouquet, veil, shoes, full invitation suite, perfume, jewelry, non-plastic dress hanger, etc for brides. For grooms, prepare shoes, ring, tie, boutonniere, cologne, cufflinks, watch, etc. Place all items in one area (preferably in a box or basket). Next, assign your MOH or bridesmaid the job of ensuring the details are ready and getting them to the photographer (and back from the photographers when they’re done).
- Communicate your needs to the wedding photographer before the wedding day. It’s important to let your photographer know what special things you must have photographed as well as any insecurities you may have about your portraits being taken. Photographers are not mind readers and we want you to be in love with your images on your wedding day. Share your wants, needs, and concerns with your photographer prior to your wedding day so that they can come up with a game plan for you!
- Don't forget to eat. Take time to drink water, eat lunch, and make sure you are ready for the day ahead! Many brides and grooms choose to have food items to snack on and for lunch available to bridal parties throughout the day. Even if you’re too excited/nervous/jittery, eat and drink throughout the day!
- Designate a “go-to” person for questions on the day of the wedding if you don’t have a wedding planner/coordinator. Choose your MOH or someone (other than MOB or MOG) that knows a lot about your wedding day and all the details. Delegate tasks to others on your big day so that you can sit back and relax! Let your photographers know ahead of time who this person is so that if the photographers have any questions, they don't have to bother you or the moms!
- Make sure that at least TWO people know how to bustle your dress… the more the merrier! I’ve found that on wedding days, bustling a dress can take quite a few minutes to do and it’s much easier when more than one person knows how to do so. Have those people practice bustling your dress a few times so that they know how to do it.
- During bridal party/bride & groom portraits, it’s best to minimize the amount of locations that you use on the day of the wedding. It takes time to walk/drive from one location to the next, so keep that in mind as your’e planning your wedding day timeline. It’s better to schedule too much time for portraits & traveling from locations rather than too little time (and be rushed).
- If at all possible, choose a getting ready room with window light. It’s so important to have good lighting on your wedding day. Although you may have artificial lighting indoors, it’s not always the prettiest option. If your getting ready room doesn’t have any natural light at all, don’t fret- I will simply use my external flash OR we could move to another room with natural light for portraits.
- Bridal party getting ready rooms (yes, both guys and girls) should be kept clean in areas that you want photographs. Ask your girls and guys to keep the room clean if at all possible. Ask your MOH/best man or a bridesmaid/groomsman to be in charge of ensuring that the room is clean before it’s time to begin portraits so that we aren’t scrambling to move things around. Designate a “crap corner” and use that to store all of the items that are eye-sores around the room. We know you will have bags, clothing items, food, etc… just designate one area for those items rather than the entire getting ready room.
- Remind your groom, groomsmen, male family members, etc. to take their phones and wallets out of their pockets prior to wedding portraits. Also, remove sunglasses and leave them with someone else. I’ve seen too many weddings where groomsmen have to take keys, wallets, phones, etc out of their pockets and leave them laying on the ground where they could get stepped on during portraits. To make it easier for everyone, simply remind them prior to the wedding day to remove all items from pockets.
- Kiss for several seconds at a time and don’t be afraid to kiss more than once! Throughout your wedding day, your photographer will encourage you two to kiss each other for portraits. You will be asked to share your first kiss as husband and wife during your ceremony. You will also have the opportunity to kiss as you leave the aisle as husband and wife. When you kiss, remember that your photographer is trying to quickly snap the image and if you’re too fast, your photographer might miss it. I always tell couples to kiss for at least 3-4 seconds. Enjoy some long first kisses on your wedding day! And, you don't just have to give one kiss at a time… make it 2 or 3! :)
- Get a list, ya’ll! And tell the people that they are on the list and when to be ready for portraits. Family portraits after the ceremony are so important. I have two pieces of advice for you. First, make sure that you get a list of family members names to your photographers at least a week before your wedding. The list should at least have first names of all people wanted in the portraits. Your photographers will need to call out their names to ensure they are in the correct portraits. Second, let all close family members know that you want them to stay at the ceremony site for family portraits. Sometimes family members (yes, even close ones like grandparents) forget or don’t realize they need to stay for the family portraits. It takes time to gather lost family members and is much easier when they all know prior to the wedding day.
- A first look is a greeeeat way to spend more time with your honey on your wedding day. I saved this one for last because I know it’s a little controversial and isn’t for everyone. I’ve photographed weddings where couples did not do a first look and I’ve also photographed weddings where they did. This decision is totally up to you as the bride and groom.
Here’s my two cents:
In my experience, I’ve found that first looks are such an intimate, private, special time for just the two of you together. You can hug, cry, kiss, share private vows, or just laugh together and talk about the day. Most couples spend more time apart on their wedding day than they would like to. Sharing a first look together allows couples more time together privately before their ceremony (where all eyes are on them). Doing a first look prior to the ceremony also allows your photographer to go ahead and take full bridal party portraits before the ceremony. This means that after your ceremony is over, your bridal party can head on into the reception (instead of waiting) while you take your family portraits and first portraits as husband and wife. Doing a first look allows you to arrive to your own reception sooner as well!
- Many couples say that they don't want to do a first look because they are afraid it will take away from that special moment walking down the aisle. I’ve not been married myself, but with all the couples I’ve seen do a first look, I haven’t talked to one that said it ruined their “aisle moment” or that regretted it. Talk to your friends and your photographer to hear about others’ experiences with first looks. Maybe a first look is your jam and maybe it isn’t.
- One last thing… Breathe, relax, and stay focused on each other. You’re beginning the rest of your lives together. Celebrating your love and commitment is what matters most. Do what is right for YOU TWO. Don't listen to what everyone else wants. Customize your wedding to your love story and what you two want. Sit back and admire all of the hard work that you (and your loving family/friends) have put into your day. Soak it all in. The best is yet to come!